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The secret book that was written by David Bowie


David Bowie was a multi-faceted talent capable of making a success out of whatever avenue interested him. He even wrote a novel, but it sadly never saw the light of day, and it remains a mystery whether it ever will.

The singer’s first venture into the world of literature came in the 1970s when Bowie decided to put his own spin on the autobiography category by throwing in a sprinkling of fiction for good measure. Admittedly, Bowie was in the midst of his cocaine for breakfast phase, and that is likely the reason why he never finished the project.

During an interview with Rolling Stone, ‘The Thin White Duke’ explained why he decided to undertake the writing process. “I’ve still not read an autobiography by a rock person that had the same degree of presumptuousness and arrogance that a rock and roll record used to have. So I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life,” he said.

Adding: “It may be a series of books. I’m so incredibly methodical that I would be able to categorise each section and make it a bleedin’ encyclopedia. You know what I mean? David Bowie as the microcosm of all matter.”

However, it never developed far enough to be one book, let alone a series, and Bowie instead poured his creative energy into Station To Station. That wasn’t the end of his literary ambitions, thought, and decades later, he’d dust off his typewriter once again, but this time for a complex novel.

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Speaking to The Word in 2003, Bowie tried to explain his extravagant plans for the project and admitted that “it’ll never be completed in my lifetime”. It provided him with a new onus to focus on outside of music, and the singer admitted he was “having a ball” writing it.

“I start with the first female trade unionists in the 1890s in the East End of London and I’m coming right through to Indonesia and the political problems of the South China Seas,” he noted about the complex themes in the novel. “I’m picking up these extraordinary things I never knew. And it’s so easy to do research on the internet. It’s something I’ve been writing for the last 18 months and it’s hideously hard,” Bowie added.

Staying focused was an issue for ‘The Starman’, who let his brain wander down countless rabbit holes. However, that didn’t matter to him, as the research was as thrilling to Bowie as putting pen to paper.

There was no strict deadline set by the publishers, and instead, he chose to approach the project at his own pace. Unfortunately, as he feared, the book never emerged during his lifetime, and it’s unknown whether he even finished writing the piece. “It’s so epic that I’m not sure I’ll ever finish. Maybe the notes will emerge after I’m dead,” he speculated.

Interestingly, there’s been little to no talk about this novel following his death, and perhaps, Bowie still has one last masterpiece for us to devour. Even if the novel was never completed, his notes would still supply an intriguing insight into the late singer’s creative cauldron.

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